ADR is a simple acronym for Australia Day Ride. Nothing tricky about it, twelve years ago two mates talked about going for a ride out into the Snowy Mountains from Victoria, and from there it grew to 3, 4, 5, and 6 people all hanging for a reason to go riding.
The next year it was 8 people and this year we had 12 who made the sojourn over to the apple isle, Tasmania for our four-day tour.
Or is it really?
Nah, just a short blast across the Bass Strait in a boat really 😀
For me it’s the opportunity to just ride for a few days in a row, something I like doing more than just about anything else in the world. So when it came to time to board I was ready three days early.
Boarding is pretty straight forward and well oiled. They line you up like sheep to sheppard you onboard then use two tie downs to pull your bars down, not tight enough to do fork seals but sturdy enough so your bike doesn’t move.
They put a rubber band around the front brake and ask you to leave it in gear with the steering lock off. The boat has been refurbished recently and it’s pretty cool when you HAVE to catch a dinghy across the ditch (I hate deep water, can’t swim and have an irrational fear of deep water and boats sinking).
That said, they do decent enough food, the bar is open till late and there is a Star Wars Pinball machine so I was happy as Larry. Few hours later I’m squished into a tiny overhead bunk in a cabin filled of snoring bears, white as a ghost, sucking my thumb praying for it to be over.
11hrs later you arrive in Devonport,15 mins or so later you are on your way.
George prepared the maps this year, after he lead several members on multiple good riding days over the course of the past year, convincing them of what I already knew; George makes the best maps without doubt.
This is in fact, how I came to have some of the best rides of my life over the past few years, and also helped me shape the best Scotland ride I’ve done. The theory is simple and it works like a charm.
Stay off main roads and freeways.
Note a small town off the beaten track and head towards it. As I said, works a charm both interstate and overseas. Not knowing anything is sometimes all you need to know.
It’s the best way to see a place, and it’s also so much more active than barrelling along a freeway watching kilometers peel away but never really seeing anything other than the tar in front of you.
For me the trip meant scrubbing in brand new tyres, tyres I had never tried before, and ones I really hadn’t much experience with – a Shinko E705. They had literally 20-50kms of scrubbing in as we boarded, not particularly phased although slightly apprehensive as always of new hoops.
George had meticulously planned maps for each day and I had prepped a series of cheat sheets that simply contained main street numbers matched to town names along part of the way, finishing with an address for the accommodation, so if anyone got horribly lost they had something to refer to.
All was going well until we hit the first dirt section, a stunning road joining Branxholm to Weldeborough, connecting us up to the A3 again. I was in my element, a chance to give the Shinkos a good thrashing in the dirt, but for others it meant less than ideal circumstances and unfortunately the first tumble of ADR12 happened; the slabside went stabby on the front brake and ended up arse over tip on the downhill.
Me and the Buell sat around at the end of the last turn for about half hour wondering what had happened, before being joined by half the remaining crew but missing four… it was decided I would go back and survey the situation given I had the most capable bike and fuel capacity.
No complaints here! I sauntered off at a pace and covered maybe 10kms before I found some wreckage.
Fortunately Slabbie was fine, scratched, dented, slightly more busted, but still fine and after a few choice mods including fixing the indicator and trying to fix the rear brakes we were back on our way.
Sadly we had lost much time and it was decided to give the slabside operator a bit of a break and we changed our plot and lost the next 50km stretch up to Ansons Bay, opting instead for a more direct route to St Marys.
I reveled in the opportunity to tackle the rough stuff again and found myself hurtling along the hot tar at pace.
This was the first really shit-hot section of bitchy I had been able to see what the Shinkos could do. And they didn’t disappoint.
While still hesitant to tip right in, I had tried scrubbing them in best I could, my mate Smurf who fitted em had also given em the once over with thinners to strip the wax off to a certain extent, but it’s not until you are on a hot sticky road after a few hundred kays and a good bit of belief that I felt ready for the best stretch of road of the day.
It’s called St Mary’s pass and ended our jaunt on day 1, one of the best ‘passes’ Australia has to offer. It’s only 15km long, but flat, sweeping along a cliff face on one side and a small drop the other, it’s tight and friggen awesome. So awesome.
A hop skip and a jump and we’re at our chosen accommodation, the St Marys Hotel, a welcoming place with decent beds, clean sheets and a good bit of pub grub to inhale.
Up and away the next morning without much fuss and the great riding continues. But not before the annual group pic.
St Marys to Bicheno, onto Conara and Avoca following the B42 to Craggy Peaks and Fingal was the plan but coming into a town I can’t remember, the Breva lost a front caliper retainer bolt. This was bad.
Good thing we had a support ute on board. Stopping in the unknown town to form a plan to fix Breva was a bit of a nightmare, trying to suss out if anyone in town had a quite specific bolt to fit an Italian motorcycle wasn’t exactly how we planned to spend our time, but a brother in need is a brother in need.
I googled Moto Guzzi and discovered there was a dealer in Hobart. I also went for a walk up to the local Deli to discover they had quite a selection of bolts, but alas none that would be suitable.
So on the ute she goes… boo! Never before have we uted a bike in our 12 years of ADR history. That it was the Guzzi just cemented my dislike for the pig of a bike. Sorry Doc, but man that bike is a dog.
Back on the ride, tempers flaring, the mood was definitely not a great vibe. But I was in form and enjoying the ride of my life, so we boarded our steel steeds with the Ute in tow and set off for the final destination of the day – Maydena.
I stopped with George at a little town as a splinter group, it was stinking hot, there was only shitty fuel on offer and with the splinter group now in chunks of bikes 2 up and a busted Breva on a ute, me and George just thought ‘fuck it’ and sat down with a pie and had a bit of a laugh at our predicament.
Back on the road and we reach ?? for a fuel stop, a regroup and assessment of the situation before I lead the group out again.
I’m good at that – taking off with out much thought – ‘this way!’
In about ten kays I realise that we are going the wrong way and do a stupid maneuver near a bend and bang a U turn. It’s about this time with 80 kms to go to our destination, the RT shit itself. Backfires enormously and stalls. The Buell does an awkward fatigued U turn on the bend in the dirt and bins itself clumsily and the whole tour starts to fall apart.
Cursing ensues and roadside repairs commence on the Buell while Wombat and I discuss how to get the RT back into town.
This is where I learnt how to push a bike with me leg resting on a pannier!
Back into town and rip a few panels off and poke around at the RT for a while throwing ideas about and Wombat decides to just try it again, determined not to end up bike 2 on the Ute.
By this time the splinter group with the Ute have arrived and are heading back out way to potentially collect the RT when it magically decides to just work and so we are back on the road hoping for the best. I’m literally just thinking nothing off the whole shamoz and just trying to enjoy the ride. It’s actually quite comical, but understandably stressful and less comical to those affected.
We make it to Maydena and meet Lindy Lou the owner of the establishment we are parking at for the night. It’s a combination of Hannibal Lecter creepy meets Cheech and Chong wasted while the BMX Bandits are in town. I don’t know if we have made it into a parallel universe but that would certainly explain some of our conundrums.
Later that night I meet the most wasted cat of my life. Literally, this cat has found the stash and dug right in and poor thing is doing a slinky down the stairs not sure if it can make it. Strange place.
Two of the boys set off to Hobart to find a bolt for the Breva nursing decent hangovers while the rest of the group slowly saddle up for the sprint out to the Gordon Dam, the boys shoot off ahead, and I hang back with Wombat expecting the expected as it happens – the RT dies again.
Poor Wombat. Determined not to end up on the ute we push the bastard bike, well I push it with my leg and head back to stoner land to strip the bitch to pieces and see if we can work anything out, totally missing out on the Gordon Dam. Oh well.
The boys came back from Hobart, fixed the Breva….I fell asleep on the couch and as I came out from sleepy bo-bos I walk out of the cabin to encounter a gigantic Tiger Snake slivering up the footpath trying to get away from me. That did it for me. Maydena is out of future plans for accommodation.
The roads in Tasmania are simply awesome. Check out the maps for details because my brain is mush after a few months but I can tell you the roads leading into Wombat were spectacular, awesome long sweeping b roads with bugger all traffic in site, even over a long weekend!
In Wombat (the town, not me mate) we stopped for a pie and to catch up with the support ute et al. Great pie, some good laughs and a quick video of some squiggly soft bitumen that gave me a little squeal.
The last part of the day was probably some of the best roads to be had, the road in to Queenstown. Amazing high country stuff with lots of desolate forestry laying waste to the epic scenery, I was reminded of our last visit here a few years back. Sticky roads, hot conditions, awesome corners… unfortunately my fatigue was kicking in and I opted to take it easy staying pretty far back in the pack and just soaking up the rays.
Off into Queenstown for the last night, nothing too spectacular and no more RT fails for the day thankfully. Our accommodation reminded me of The Shining. Queenstown used to be a booming mining town and we had this massive Motel Hotel pretty much to ourselves, the poor family running the place – you could see the cracks of financial pressure on their faces, but they did a great job of hosting us and put on a spectacular buffet breakfast the next day.
No shops open on the public Holiday Monday, trying to get fuel out of a prepaid Visa card that didn’t like half of the cards we tried…was more comical than half the shit that had already happened.
Left Queenstown, ole RT starts exploding again… in front of passers by, must have been hella embarrassing for the Wombat! But he kept it going.. determined she was NOT going on the back of the ute.
Stopped somewhere after losing the slabby on our way up to Zeehan or thereabouts and I park the GS on a hill in neutral, hop off like a twat and walk away while it gently rolls off the side stand and lands on the rocker cover. Great. I almost made it home without a scratch!
Some road works as we made our way into Stanley for obligatory fish and chips…and the odd happy snap. For me this part of Tasmania reminds me of Ma and Pa who lived there briefly before returning to the mainland, so it kind of has a special place but not particularly happy one.
I didn’t let it got to me and we kicked on before stopping at Penguin for a coffee and what not… the end in sight most of the crew were over it I reckon and were happy to sit around before lazily making their way into Devonport but not me.
Nuh uh! I lead a short posse of dies-hards off the main trail and into the smaller towns and wound our (long) way back.
Into Devenport and the last hurrah Boat trip home, my only disappointment that it was a different Spirit of Tasmania, evident by the lack of a Star Wars pinball machine. Doh!
All up, even with the misfortunes of some, it was a wicked expedition and I highly recommend spending some time touring there, at least 4 – 5 days if you can!
Until next time. Stay upright.